Gaza, the Flotilla, and Bearded Rabbis
It’s complicated. But, then again, everything about the Middle East is complicated. Let me just state this at the beginning—it’s all about religion, always has been, and always will be. Politics cannot solve this; all the US presidents since Truman’s time when his administration led the US to be the first nation to recognize Israel as a nation have tried to solve it. It can’t be done politically because it is all about religion. Here is a little history about Gaza.
First of all, Gaza was part of the land allocated to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:1-12, 20-61; Judges 1:18). That was ordered by God. Lots of people were upset when Israel left Gaza, but now it appears it was the right move. God’s plan is not finished with that.
Israel gained control of Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Israeli strategy early on was to populate the occupied territories with enough Israelis to make a successful annexation to Israel, but the demographics didn’t go as planned—Palestinians continued to remain the dominant group. Annexing the territory with that population could have created political nightmares for Israel with the population driving Arab representation in the Israeli government. The Oslo Accords in 1993 resulted in a phase-in for Palestinian political control.
Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister at the time, was also concerned with the increased security liability in managing terrorism. Sharon saw it as bad for Israel’s economy. That is what prompted the painful pullout from Gaza in August 2005. Even Israeli graves were excavated and bodies moved.
Since that time, Israel yielded up occupation of Gaza, although the UN and Palestinian Authority still consider Israel’s position as “occupier.” Actual control of the area is in the hands of Hamas, the recognized terrorist group that dominates the Palestinian Authority.
The dispute over occupation status continues between Israel and Palestinians. This is all complicated further by the fact that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state and Israel maintains a level of control of the borders, airspace, and the sea border. Israel is concerned about protecting itself from acts of terrorism which is evidenced by the weekly if not daily lobbing over of rockets from Gaza into Israel.
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was composed of six ships with Palestinian activists, carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. It was seized by Israeli commandos on May 31 which resulted in the deaths of nine of the passengers and 60 others were wounded including Israeli commandos. This incident has stirred reactions from all over the world. Palestinians maintain that the flotilla was an innocent delivery of needed humanitarian aid, and Israel maintains that the act was designed to create a conflict and they were concerned with terroristic contraband designed to be used against Israel.
Israel oversaw the unloading and delivery of the supplies, and Hamas refused to accept it until Israel released all the remaining flotilla participants.
All eyes watched June 5 as the Rachel Corrie, another ship loaded with humanitarian aid and anti-Israeli activists entered with the intent of landing at Gaza for delivery. This ship was peacefully seized by Israel and also taken to Ashdod where the goods will be unloaded under Israeli supervision and taken to Gaza. It appears at this writing that Hamas has still refused to accept the supplies from the May 31 flotilla.
The name Rachel Corrie is also significant. This Irish cargo ship was named in honor of the American college student who in 2003 placed herself in front of an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) bulldozer in order to protect a house in Gaza as a human shield. Tragically, she was killed in that incident and international outcry followed.
Although all of this tension among Israel, Gaza, the Palestinians, and neighboring Arab countries has over the years been treated with continuous political maneuvering, it’s really like trying to unscramble an egg. Emotions, beliefs, distortions, and a lot of personal agendas are all mixed in these issues making the long-term Mideast crisis seemingly impossible to resolve; at least politically. As a Christian who aligns himself completely with the Bible, my loyalties are with Israel, if nothing else, simply because the Bible states that nations that bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed and we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We know that when the tribulation begins and the church is raptured out, God will focus his attention on Israel. It is about Israel, but it is also about humanity. We pray for and support all efforts to reach humanity with the Gospel message, including those in Gaza and the Arab nations. Jesus died for all.
Now, how does Gaza fit with Bible prophecy? There might be some clues in Zephaniah 2:1-7
Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together,
O undesirable nation,
Before the decree is issued,
Or the day passes like chaff,
Before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you,
Before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you!
Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth,
Who have upheld His justice.
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
It may be that you will be hidden
In the day of the LORD’s anger.
For Gaza shall be forsaken,
And Ashkelon desolate;
They shall drive out Ashdod at noonday,
And Ekron shall be uprooted.
Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast,
The nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the LORD is against you,
O Canaan, land of the Philistines:
“ I will destroy you;
So there shall be no inhabitant.”
The seacoast shall be pastures,
With shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks.
The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah;
They shall feed their flocks there;
In the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening.
For the LORD their God will intervene for them,
And return their captives.
As we look at these verses, it seems clear that “the day of the Lord’s anger” refers to the tribulation period. There is a warning here that it is coming and he is saying to gather together before the tribulation takes place. But then the prophet states that Gaza will be forsaken. At first it seems this will happen as a result of the tribulation, but after reading all the scriptures in this passage, it could be that this prophesy is stating that the tribulation is coming, get your act together because Gaza will become deserted and turned into pastures for Judah.
According to the Bible, we know that Gaza belongs to Israel. It was promised to them from the beginning, and here the Prophet Zephaniah states it will be back in Israel’s hands either before or after the tribulation.
Now, if we tie some other scriptures together, we can see that it looks as if there is to be yet another war where Israel actually gains more territory, including full control of the Temple Mount. We know that Israel has to have that in order to build the third temple, and we know the third temple will be in place because the Prophet Daniel tells us that the Antichrist will enter and defile it (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11). You can read past blogs on the third temple and temple mount by clicking on those words in the Tag List. Zechariah 9 and Amos 1 also mention an incident in Gaza, and by including Isaiah 17 and the prophesies against Damascus, these scriptures conclude that another war is on the way that will result in Israel gaining additional territory, including Gaza.
Psalm 83 concurs with an inevitable war. The groups mentioned line up to Israel’s current neighbors. Edom and the Ishmaelites were in land now occupied by Jordan and Moab and Ammon make up the rest of Jordan. Ahman is the modern spelling of Ammon, which is the capital of Jordan. The Hagrites were part of Aram and their capital was Damascus in modern Syria. Gebal and Tyre are in present day Lebanon. The Amalekites lived in Israel’s current southern desert near Gaza and Philistia settled in Gaza. Assyria conquered Aram and the children, or descendants, of Lot also refers to Jordan. Moab and Ammon were the sons of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters.
Once this war takes place, Israel will have increased its territory, fences and walls can come down, and Israel will dwell in safety. Of course, the Arab nations and Russia won’t let this last too long. That’s where the battle described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 come into place. Israel in these chapters is described as enjoying safety and peace with no walls before they attack. Israel in its current condition doesn’t fit this description, but once Psalm 83, Zechariah 9, Zephaniah 2, and Isaiah 17 take place, then we’ll see prophecy fulfilled.
The flotilla incident can very well be that which leads to this. The Rabbinical Council sure thinks something is about to happen as records Israeli National News:
The Rabbinical Council of Judea and Samaria issued a statement Thursday in which it said that the results of Israel's interception of a flotilla trying to break the naval blockade of Gaza "place us at the beginning of the Gog and Magog process where the world is against us, but whose end orders the third and final redemption," according to the Kol Rinah news service. The reference is to the book of Ezekiel 38:18-39:16, read on the intermediate Sabbath of Sukkot (Tabernacles), which describes a war that will precede the final redemption.
The statement continued, "Secular Zionism always aspired that we not be 'a people alone among the peoples', but the legitimacy of our people is not derived from the nations of the world and their hateful traditions, rather from the Torah of Israel which teaches us, "The people will live alone and will not take other peoples into consideration." (Numbers 23:9) The council blessed the soldiers and called for the unity of an emergency government that will bring about promises of salvation for the people.
The bearded Rabbis see the nations lining up against Israel, and if what several prophecy students are seeing is true, we will first see the fulfillment of prophecy that increases Israel’s territory and places them in a position of peace; something they have not witnessed in over 60-years. Then, the Arab coalition led by Russia will strike bringing fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39, it is perhaps then that Israel will fulfill what the Prophet Zechariah prophesied in 12:10, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn,” and turn their hearts to the Lord.